This is a sad one.
Ruby was the medical alert dog for Microcosm founder and CEO Joe Biel from February, 2012 to June, 2020. She was a constant presence in our office and at events.
Her service dog training meant she was skilled at making herself invisible most of the time, often sleeping curled up next to Joe’s desk or under the table at a convention or a restaurant. Even so, she made friends everywhere she went, when she ventured out at Joe’s side, or to occasionally alert someone passing by that their blood sugar was dropping (she did this by poking their leg with her nose). When she walked by one of Portland’s many brunch spots, she would often go down the line of people waiting, alerting them all. One day, a couple was fighting on the street and she ran up to alert them. She wanted to help everyone. Her intelligence and loyalty were astounding. Once she had met someone, she considered them part of her pack forever, even when meeting them again years later.
Along with her remarkable skill at detection, she was also trained for public access, which meant she could handle herself gracefully in situations, like a grocery store, restaurant, airplane, or train, that would challenge even a well-trained pet dog. She never learned to pedal her own bike, but we celebrated her bikeyness a couple of years ago with this fanciful enamel pin.
Thanks to her unique assistance in managing his disability, Joe was able to lead Microcosm out of the recession, growing us from a small press to a midlist publisher and wholesaler, and more important, to begin to regain his health and safely live a full, active life.
Ruby loved to travel everywhere with Joe by train, plane, and bicycle. Food was her primary motivation. And she loved people; her training taught her to be standoffish when she was wearing her service dog vest, but in her off-hours she loved nothing more than a belly rub or a scratch behind the ears. And even when working, she knew when someone was talking about her and perked up with great interest.
She passed away on Tuesday, June 23rd, just hours before her first book, Do Not Pet, arrived from the printer. She is dearly missed by all who knew and admired her.
Ruby’s trainer told us that she was the rare dog who found her purpose. In her honor, we’re continuing to center our own meaning and purpose every day. We hope that her legacy will outlive her, educating people about the amazing work of service animals in opening up the world to people with many kinds of disabilities.